In this photograph, BIG Smith News Watch Editor Leroy Smith directs the Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo to a working fire hydrant
Just before leaving the country on travel duties, President Irfaan Ali accompanied by Home Affairs Minister Benn, PS Thomas, Top Cop Hoppie and Fire Chief Edoo paid a visit to the temporary office space of the Brickdam Police Station.
The Brickdam Police Station complex was destroyed by fire on Saturday and most of the destruction could have been avoided had the fire service arrived in a prepared manner.
The President’s visit was not a pleasant one, at least for the Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo as the president did not cloak his comments and views on the response of the Fire Service.
The President admitted that the situation is a difficult one for the police and great loss to people of Guyana. The President commended the police response to the fire.
President Irfaan Ali spoke of the tremendous investments which have been made to the Guyana Fire Service over the last year and is concerned about the output of that agency.
“In this country people will have to be held accountable for their actions. We cant be making investments in state institutions and state apparatus and do not get the results from those investments, the response of the Fire Service was poor at its best yesterday” President Irfaan Ali stated.
The president made the comments based on footage, photographs and information he received from persons on the ground during the Brickdam Police Station fire.
Yesterday BIG Smith News Watch asked Minister of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police about their views on the Fire Service response but they refused to speak candidly on it and provided cosmetic responses.
The President on Sunday morning said that as President he would hope that the Fire Service would acknowledge the problem of their poor performances yesterday since it first calls for acceptance of a problem before said problem is fixed.
“It upsets me, their state of readiness when they came on the scene, many business people around the area called me directly, during the course of the fire offering their support including access and source of water but the fire service was not a position to receive the assistance,” the President stated.
He said as a country and people we cannot continue to make investments and not have the returns.
“The inefficiency has to be weeded out.. if you don’t want to perform public service then do the honourable thing. Don’t take a job in the fire department and believe its a part-time job. Don’t take the government assets, safety gear and leave it home when you are an emergency worker…how much of money we spent already in the last year on fire… hundreds of millions of dollars…hundreds of millions of dollar and to put it crudely, you can’t respond to events in your back yard?” Stated an upset and disappointed Irfaan Ali.
The Fire Chief on Saturday as is was evident in photographs and videos, showed up at the fire scene without his safety and protective gears which made him unable to effectively command the operations of his men as he could not venture to some areas where the fire was being battled to have a hands on approach.
The Fire Chief was also unaware that there was a working fire hydrant in Leopold Street and this publication witnessed first hand, residents calling out to fire officers including the Fire Chief while he was Hadfield Street to point him to the hydrant with the water.
There was also the initial state where the fire chief was unaware of the protocol he needed to activate to ensure that GPL cuts electricity to the entire block so that his men can work freely and in an safe manner. It was related that when the Fire Chief was told of what he needed to do to ensure power was cut from at-least two blocks around the fire scene he said “I did not know I had to do that”
The president continued… “And the response is not about assets you know, the response is about attitude, its about commitment, its about discipline, its about professionalism, its about being in a state if readiness.. look how quickly the police responded to an emergency,” the Head of State noted.
“I am publicly putting the Fire Service on warning.. this cannot and will not be tolerated” The president concluded.